Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Food Cures

Dietary therapy is a component of traditional Chinese medicine which sometimes gets forgotten about even though common herbal formula prescriptions contain everyday foodstuff such as ginger, licorice, citrus peels, mint, turmeric, cinnamon plus many more spices, seeds and flowers.
When we move away from eating whole natural foods diseases develop. Dietary therapy means using food as medicine not as a way to lose weight. The old adage an apple a day keeps the doctor away actually holds some truth. All foods have nutritional components - vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants. Now we have the technology to determine which foods are best at helping prevent or fight specific diseases. A recent study on hypertension found that beetroot juice can help lower blood pressure due to the nitrate content. Another study shows that a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and low fat dairy also helps with hypertension. A common recommendation for people with high blood pressure is the DASH diet.

From a TCM perspective celery juice is good to treat hypertension with high cholesterol, while hawthorn tea is good if hypertension is combined with heart disease. Other foods that may help are apples, black sesame, chrysanthemum, carrot, persimmon, seaweed, tomato, spinach and watermelon. Ideally the TCM diagnosis you receive from your Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine will determine the most appropriate foods as they all have certain properties and actions on the body.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Instant Gratification & The Un-Sustainable Lifestyle

A recent article in the New York Times Dysregulation Nation highlights the obstacles we all face on a daily basis with regards to overconsumption, over stimulation and general excess. As a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) I am always striving for balance in my personal and professional life as well as encouraging the same in my clients.

The two areas where I find the most the resistance are treatment time and lifestyle changes. One of the first questions people will ask is how long until I feel better? In our age of fast acting medicine, where you can take a pill and in half an hour feel relief it can be frustrating to learn that although Chinese medicine is effective for many common conditions it may take several weeks to several months of consistent acupuncture and/or herbal treatment before lasting and significant results are seen. TCM therapies take longer because the primary aim is to balance the body, not trick it into thinking it is healthy.

The pill popping instant relief way of treating illness has become unsustainable for many people as they no longer respond to or become dependent on medication. TCM takes a wholistic viewpoint by assessing current symptoms, constitution, diet and lifestyle.

Diet and lifestyle are key components to health and as people start to embrace more sustainable living by eating local seasonal food, riding bikes or walking for transportation they are already incorporating TCM into their lives. Chinese medicine has strong roots in disease prevention through exercise, diet and regulating emotional stress. Somehow this way of living has been lost and is now being rediscovered with exercise being touted as "new medicine" according to the American Surgeon General.

Over the next several weeks I will be profiling activities such as tai chi, yoga and meditation with the hope of inspiring people to take steps to a healthier lifestyle. For each activity I will be interviewing a local instructor on how people can incorporate these activities into their lives and what benefits may be experienced. A video demo of the activity and links to relative research will be included. Check back next week for the first instalment - Tai Ji

Wednesday, June 9, 2010



One item I have been recommending to my clients for many months now is the neti pot. To be honest I actually started recommending it before I had even tried it out. Having read several articles on it I believed it would help with my occasional nasal congestion and allergy flare ups.

Last fall I finally got up the courage to try it out and loved it.....after a few awkward attempts. It is an odd sensation pouring saline solution in one nostril and watching it flow out the other. It took a few tries to get the right concentration of salt and the proper angle of the pot, but once you get the right combination it is effortless. The neti pot has helped me tremendously with allergies, general congestion or to clear out my nasal passages after working in dusty, polluted environments, I even take it when I travel as it soothes my nose after a long flight. If you have seasonal allergies or suffer with chronic congestion I suggest giving it a try. Neti pot and salts are available from Meridian Flow's online store as an inexpensive, natural solution to a very common condition.